Canada’s men’s field hockey team has advanced to the 2015 Pan American Games semifinal after a 3-0 quarterfinal win over Trinidad and Tobago Tuesday at the Pan Am Fields in Toronto.
Canada remains undefeated after four games and has only allowed two goals against, compared to its twenty-one goals for.
“It starts all the way up the field with our forwards and our mids too,” says Matthew Sarmento of the team defense against the Trinidians on Tuesday.
“It didn’t take one quarter, two quarters, it took four. So we’re happy with the result and we’re looking forward to next game.”
Canada’s victory sends them on to the semifinal, where they will face Brazil (Thursday, 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET).
The Canadians got rolling quickly, as in the early moments of the match veteran forward Matthew Guest – who was playing in his 100th match for Canada – nearly got on the end of a great ball into the circle from Mark Pearson.
It wasn’t long before Canada was able to convert.
In the third minute, on a Canadian penalty corner that seemed likely to go awry after a bobbled handoff, the ball found its way to Iain Smythe at the side of the goal, where he tapped in his first of the tournament to give Canada the 1-0 lead.
Before the end of the first half, Trinidad had a chance to get on the board on successive penalty corners but Sarmento contributed to the team defense when he blocked a flick that was headed on goal.
“[Goalkeeper David] Carter just said get in that line, and (Scott) Tupper gave me confience to get there and I’m able to block and happy I did.”
It was an important block beause before the half was out, Sarmento was able to contribute on the offensive side of the pitch when he found himself open at the end of the a wonderful rush and pass from Gabriel Ho-Garcia.
Sarmento’s third goal of the tournament gave Canada a 2-0 lead at half-time, it was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish on route to the win.
Captain Scott Tupper scored his fourth of the tournament late in the match, when he once again converted on a penalty corner, sending Canada into the semifinal against Brazil on a high note.
Canada and Brazil met in the first game of pool play with Canada coming out on top handily, but Tupper is wary of putting much stock into that result.
“I think we have to be very diligient about not resting on the fact that we won 9-1,” he says. “It was quite close in the first half and they were very close to going 2-2 and really putting us under the pump.”
Brazil is coming off a strong upset victory against the United States, during which they led the U.S. 1-0 from the thirty-fourth minute before eventually winning in a shootout.
Canada has a chance to officially qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Thursday if both the Canadians and Argentinians win their respective semifinals. Argentina faces Chile (2:00pm PT/5:00pm ET).
Canada and Brazil are scheduled to play Thursday at 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET.